NEXT BIG THING: Top 8 kids inside Chelsea youth system

Chelsea’s youth academy has been delivering some top quality of late and this season is no different.

In tribalfootball.com’s second edition of ‘NEXT BIG THING’, we take a close look at the Top 8 talents coming out of Cobham in 2013/14.

 

Charly Musonda Jr

The Belgium U17 captain has already been labelled as a ‘wunderkind’ by many involved at Chelsea.

The son of former Anderlecht and Zambia midfielder Charles has been described on the Blues’ official website as a youngster that ‘plays anywhere in midfield and is an exciting, technical player who scores and makes goals.’

Musonda was part of the Chelsea side that lost the FA Youth Cup to Norwich City last season and is making rapid progress in the youth academy this term.

Dutch and Belgian football identity Johan Boskamp is a massive fan of Musonda, who is the younger brother of Chelsea U21 players Tika and Lamisha, while Chelsea youth team coach Adi Viveash is expecting big things from the supreme talent.

"He's a very exciting footballer and a very different individual,” Viveash said. “He's a deep thinker for a young kid and really thinks a lot about his game, has really good adult conversations and, for me, he could be something, though it's still all about potential at this age."

Charly Jr signed his first pro deal in October and is already being compared to Blues star Eden Hazard.

Bertrand Traore

The 18-year old midfielder has already represented Burkina Faso on 11 occasions, including the recent ill-fated World Cup playoff with Algeria, suggesting that he shows maturity beyond his fledgling years.

Traore arrived at Chelsea from the academy of French club Auxerre in August 2010 and has now been signed to a four-and-a-half-year pro contract subject to a work permit after turning 18 in September.

Blues boss Jose Mourinho has already sung the praises of Traore who was impressive for the southwest London during their preseason tour of Asia.

“He’s a great talent, that the club has followed for a long time,” Mourinho said.

“We think the kid has a bright future so we could get him. Of course we could get him. We have to wait for other things, work permit, so on and so on but we have a kid that is in our opinion is one of the best talents of his age.

“He has played since he was 16 in his national team and African national teams are good sides, especially Burkina is a side with talented players.

“It looks like mentally he’s also very stable. He comes from a family of footballers, the father, the brother, so I think it’s his natural habitat, the kid looks very comfortable and good players they have no age. I think the kid is ready to make an impact, yes.”

Bertrand’s older brother Alain is a striker at French club Lorient and a regular in the Burkina Faso national side.

Islam Feruz

Born in Somalia, the 18-year old striker grew up in Scotland and was snapped up by Glasgow giants Celtic at the tender age of 10.

During his time there, Feruz and his family were granted British passports, allowing him to remain in Scotland to continue developing his game in the Hoops youth academy under the late, great Tommy Burns.

Chelsea moved for Feruz in 2011 and were successful in their pursuit prior to him becoming Scotland's youngest ever U21 international in April 2012.

National team exploits aside, the diminutive yet speedy striker has gone on to be a major attacking threat for Chelsea’s youth sides. He scored six goals in eight FA Youth Cup matches during the 2011/12 season – including two in the first leg of the winning final – before finishing on seven goals in the 2012/13 NextGen Series as joint-leading scorer.

Amongst the early-career success, however, Feruz has had some off-field controversies in the past including a post on Twitter proposing that he’d love to represent either Somalia, Tanzania or Zanzibar at the African Cup of Nations, suggesting a Scotland U21 trip to Holland was ‘boring’ and more recently, being hit with dangerous driving charges for which he has to stand trial.

He has brushed that aside by netting four goals in nine outings for the U21s as of December 5.

Isaiah Brown

Although not a true-blue product of Chelsea’s youth academy after being brought in from West Bromwich Albion in July, Isaiah Brown is certainly one player to watch.

The 16-year old England U17 international can be deployed as a winger, striker, attacking midfielder or centre-forward and is currently the second-youngest player ever to appear in the Premier League.

Brown stepped out for Albion’s seniors against Wigan Athletic in May, aged 16 years and 117 days, and since being with Chelsea has shown plenty of promise with the U21 and U19 teams.

Albion are hoping they can negotiate a compensation fee of around £1.2million for Brown, who cannot sign a pro deal until he turns 17, after the Blues initially offered £350,000.

He comes highly-rated from the West Midlands, so much so that Albion sporting director Richard Garlick wants the club to receive due compensation.

“We have invested a lot of time and money in Isaiah’s development as a player and – as one of our most exciting academy products in recent years – we had hoped to bring him through into our first team,” he said in July.

Brown has scored four goals for the U21s so far this season in just eight appearances.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

The 17-year old midfielder has been performing consistently at both U18 and U21 level over the past 12 or so months and has already had a taste of first team action this past summer in preseason matches.

Loftus-Cheek started both USA friendlies against Manchester City suggesting that Mourinho is earmarking him for a future senior role at Stamford Bridge.

Part of the Chelsea team that lost last season’s FA Youth Cup and won in 2011/12, Loftus-Cheek was rewarded with a stunning deal that could make him a millionaire before he turns 20.

Reports suggested that a Roman Abramovich-sanctioned £1.7million contract was offered to the young gun in March this year, which would land him more than £900,000 over two-and-a-half-years as a basic salary.

In May, Loftus-Cheek told Chelsea TV the following of his experience in the Chelsea first team: "I'm proud of my performance.

"You've got to enjoy these occasions as a young player and I did. It's amazing playing in front of 40-odd thousand."

The former England schoolboys captain also attracted interest from Barcelona and City at the beginning of the season indicating that he is set for a very bright future.

Jeremie Boga

The talented French attacker, who is often deployed as a ‘No.10’, has already made his presence felt in southwest London by scoring both goals in the second leg of last season’s ill-fated FA Youth Cup final clash with Norwich City.

The Marseille-born Boga has already bagged four goals in four appearances for the youth team this term as well as one for the U21s and is developing nicely under the tutelage of youth bosses Dermot Drummy and Viveash.

He managed to score a hat-trick against Arsenal’s U18s last month but prior to that was a key part of Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Barcelona in the Round of 16 of the 2012/13 NextGen series in February.

On that occasion, Boga scored late to add to Feruz’s first-half opener, and he received high praise from the Spanish press with Perarnau Magazine writing the following: “Jeremie Boga, born on January 1997, is 16 years old. At the minimum age required to play in this competition, he was the epicentre and nervous system of Chelsea.

“With a few minutes left, in the middle of a period where the Barcelona side were attacking with full force, Boga silenced the Mini Estadi. Latching onto the ball on the right wing, he penetrated the area, and with nothing more complicated than a feint and a hard right-footed shot he notched up the second Chelsea goal, putting an end to Barcelona's story in the competition."

Nathan Ake

The U21 captain, who also skippers the U19 UEFA Youth League side, joined Chelsea from Dutch club Feyenoord in the summer of 2011.

By trade a central defender, 18-year old Ake can also operate on the left or through midfield, and has been internationally capped at all youth levels for Holland.

Ake made his Premier League debut fort Chelsea as a 17-year old in December 2012 before starting for the first time in the senior side in a FA Cup victory in February this year.

Since then he has made two further appearances in the Premier League, including a start against Everton in May, and appeared twice in the Europa League last season.

Ake, who signed a five-year deal in August, has not been involved since Jose Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge this past summer but has preferred not to go out on loan as he makes his first team aspirations known.

"That's okay, since I am still young," he said of missing out on senior selection so far this season.

"I must assert myself, though. It really is a fresh start (under Mourinho).

"Staying (at Chelsea) will increase the chances of a place in the senior squad for me."

Josimar Quintero

The Ecuador-born defender/midfielder joined Chelsea from Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy this summer amid interest from the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham.

16-year old Quintero has already been called up to Ecuador’s U17 team, without a cap, but is also eligible to represent Spain and Catalonia.

Catalan press has described Quintero as ‘disciplined, hardworking and humble’ but he has already suggested that he will commit himself to Ecuador despite living in Barcelona since he was five years old.

He told ECUAGOL: "For the national team, Ecuador, no doubt. The only colours I'm sorry.

"Playing for Spain at youth level is a very important step. People of the Spanish federation has already asked me but I want to go to Ecuador.”

And upon making the move to southwest London, Quintero suggests he is determined to make it to the top in England to follow in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Felipe Caicedo, Ulises de la Cruz, Agustin Delgado, and the late Christian Benitez.

"I want to follow more people of my country,” he added.

Quintero has already drawn comparisons with Manchester United’s Ecuadorian ace Antonio Valencia because of his ability to play as a winger or at full-back.

 
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